An Open Letter to the "Helpers"

Subject: An Open Letter to the "Helpers"
From: A worn out mom
Date: 29 Dec 2020

Dear Helpers,

I get it. You choose carriers as police officers, teachers, paramedics, nurses, social workers, etc. to help people. I choose my career path for the same reason. I get it! You are all in it to keep people safe and you are all, like me, mandated reporters if you have reason to believe that someone, especially a child or someone in a vulnerable population isn't safe. I get it! I appreciate the motivation behind all that you do and I realize that many of you are trying really hard to do your job to the best of your ability. At the same time, you need to hear something from me, not as a fellow helper, but as a mom.

Many of you simply are NOT helping!

I am more than a mom. I am a mom of three amazing children, one of whom suffers from multiple physical and mental health conditions. People see us out and about, and sometimes my youngest child has trouble walking and needs a wheelchair. Sometimes she has temper tantrums and emotional outbursts due to her physical and emotional instability. Sometimes she intentionally does and says things that are hurtful toward me and her siblings and her dad. Sometimes she has seizures and passes out or has ticks that she cannot control. Sometimes she is defiant and lies and gets angry over what appears to be nothing.

And when you all see these things happen, whether in school or out in public or when we call on you for help, you, the helpers do everything but help. You do the thing that some supervisor along the way trained you to do. You call and report the incident, as if we are somehow the cause of all our child's problems and we have no knowledge of how to manage them. Then we, as the parents instead of being able to focus on getting help and healing for our child, have to spend all of our time and energy and resources explaining, defending, and proving that we are not the enemy. It is exhausting. It creates MORE trauma and MORE chaos for us and for our child who is already dealing with too much for their young age. Also, while we are dealing with having to prove our case, those children who truly need to be helped are not getting what they need.

So, that said, I beg of you my friends and fellow "Helpers" please stop passing snap judgement based on what you see, and actually try something that really helps. How can you help? I'm glad you asked!

First, ask questions and make helpful observations and be willing to really listen to the responses. If you approach me and ask what started the incident, I am happy to share with you our story. My child suffers from PTSD from trauma that was out of our control. My child suffers from chronic physical illness that was brought on by her immune system, not by our own actions. My child suffers from an illness that looks scary to someone who has no knowledge, but that to us had become a routine part of our lives. If you ask if I need an ambulance I will tell you that I do not. I am happy to explain instead the doctor's instructions when these incidents occur. Believe me, when it first started we called 911, we have been down that road many times, and now all it will do is cause more harm and trauma so please stop making assumptions that I am not caring or that I am a neglectful parent. Listen to my story.

Second, offer helpful actions. Ask if a glass of water, a cool cloth, something to eat might be helpful or if I could use assistance to get my child to a calmer location with fewer people around. These are far more helpful than standing around staring, making comments that are out of ignorance of the situation, or assuming that I need an ambulance.

Finally, look inside yourself for the empathy and compassion that drew you to your profession in the first place. You didn't go into a helping profession because you wanted fame or fortune. You did it because you genuinely could sense when others were hurting and you wanted to make their life and their world a little easier. Do that, not by passing judgement, but by showing compassion to the mom or dad of a hurting child.

I know you have seen a lot of bad stuff happen at the hand or parents or other caregivers. I have as well in my role as a helper. I know that those experiences can harden a heart and make it easy to judge, but as a mom who has been wrongfully on the other side of such judgment, who has been in a position where they are both scared of and for their child, I know that what I need and what other moms and dads need are helpers who take time to understand, helpers who are helpful. Helpers who don't always make assumptions based on their first instinct (and I used to be one who would do that too!) but who take time to learn the facts.

A Tired Mom